Quentin Tarantino isn’t known for his high-brow tastes. The director made his name by bringing back grindhouse genres. Movies such as Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Kill Bill highlighted the power and beauty of crime, exploitation, and revenge stories without ever diminishing their nastier elements. So one would think that if anyone would have the desire and skill to make an effective superhero movie, it would be Tarantino.
However, that’s not the case. In his book Cinema Speculation, Tarantino admitted that he and other filmmakers “can’t wait for the day” that superhero movies fall out of favor. He elaborated on that point earlier this month in a conversation with the LA Times, explaining that he would never do a Marvel movie because “You have to be a hired hand to do those things, [and] I’m not a hired hand. I’m not looking for a job.”
However, Tarantino did backtrack on his position, at least a little. Variety reports that during a promotional Q&A for Cinema Speculation, the director admitted the one Marvel property he would consider taking on: Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos. Created in 1963 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos tells the adventures of a hard luck squad of World War II soldiers, led by the cigar-chomping Nick Fury. Marvel published these comics alongside contemporary tales of Nick Fury as a high-tech spy and Agent of SHIELD.
To modern audiences, Nick Fury is a household name, the official responsible for bringing together the Avengers, played with ineffable cool by Samuel L. Jackson. While Fury’s MCU adventures don’t go back further than his stint in the ’90s with Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel, it’s safe to say that this version of Fury never served in World War II. In fact, when the Howling Commandos made their big screen debut in Captain America: The First Avenger, Fury was completely absent. Cap and Bucky took over his role, leading the multinational team that featured Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan and Derek Luke as Gabe Jones.
But it’s reasonable to assume that if Tarantino did get a shot at the team, he would make a strong break from the rest of MCU canon, and as a frequent Tarantino collaborator, Jackson would likely be involved. The director’s signature style would also undoubtedly produce a movie with a much more hard-edged style that clashes with the Marvel image. Think Inglorious Basterds instead of The First Avenger.
That said, such a thing is not out of the question, at least on the Marvel end. Not only has the studio been experimenting with more edgy material, bringing into the fold the R-Rated Deadpool and Netflix series, but the comics have long portrayed the violence of war. Most notably, two Nick Fury miniseries written by Garth Ennis (creator of The Boys) were published under the Marvel MAX line, allowing for things that Tarantino likes best: explicit language and violence.
Does this history make the chance of a Tarantino Marvel movie more likely? Probably not. But it does help us better imagine what would happen if Kevin Feige stopped looking for “hired hands.”